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Stephen Pepe ’65

Owner, Clos Pepe Vineyards LLC

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Steve Pepe '65 with fellow alumni Pamela Portin '77 and Michael Finnegan '76

Stephen Pepe ’65 believes that his Montclair State education has stood him in good stead. Steve, who was born in Paterson and grew up in Hawthorne, was the first in his Italian immigrant family to attend college. Although he was accepted to other schools, Montclair State was affordable for his working class family. “If it weren’t for Montclair, I wouldn’t have gone to college,” he says.
Steve made the most of the opportunities that he found at Montclair State, graduated and went on to Duke University School of Law. “At Duke I found out how good my Montclair education was,” he says. “Most of [my law school classmates] had gone to the Ivies or came from well-known, highly-regarded private schools like Vanderbilt and the University of Chicago. My Hawthorne Public School and Montclair State education held up against the best of them.”
After law school, Steve headed west, was hired by the law firm O’Melveny & Myers LLP, made partner and spent 35 years practicing law. And then he decided it was time for a second act. After retiring from his firm in 2003, Steve and his wife, Cathy, bought Clos Pepe Vineyards LLC in Santa Barbara County and started producing award-winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Steve, who is a member of the Montclair State College of Humanities and Social Sciences Advisory Board, served as chair of the 50th Reunion Committee this past May, and has already committed to a planned gift to support the reunion’s fundraising goals. He says that the goal is to raise $100,000 in support of the Class of 1965 50th Reunion Scholarship “its fun to do,” he says. “You haven’t seen many of these people in 50 years. It’s fun to chat, to see what they have done with their lives.”